Northern Ireland – Places to Visit

In Belfast

Crumlin Road Goal

This one definitely my favourite place I visited in Belfast. The visits to this prison are tour-guided and they are only in English even though they have informative papers in different languages. Obviously, the prison is no longer operational and has been like that since 1996, having after its closure been opened to public as a “kind-of-a-museum”. During the tour it would be explained when the prison was built, how were the living conditions of the prisoners and when it closed. If you want to learn more about our visit read my full post (Belfast – Crumlin Road Goal)

Website: https://www.crumlinroadgaol.com/

Address: 53-55 Crumlin Rd, Belfast BT14 6ST


Donegall Square & City Hall

Donegall Square is the square in the centre of Belfast. The main building is the City Hall, the headquarters of Belfast City Council. The entrance is free and you can choose to either visit by yourself or join a free tour (if you want to see the times of the tours click in here). If you choose to self-guide yourselves as we did, you will learn during your visit the history of Belfast including the most-known problematic period that occurred in Belfast (and the rest of Northern Ireland), the Troubles.


The Troubles Free Tour

If you are interested in learning more about the Troubles, there is a free tour around the city. You can check in https://www.belfastfreewalkingtour.com/belfast-political-tour


Albert Memorial Clock

The Albert Memorial Clock or more commonly known as Albert Clock is a clock tower in the Queens’ Square. This landmark was built to memorialize Queen’s Victoria husband, Price Albert who died in 1861. This construction of this landmark was completed in 1869 and because it was built on wooden piles on marshy, reclaimed land from River Farset, the top of the tower leans four feet off the perpendicular, and that is why this tower has also been referred to as the Pisa’s tower of Belfast. To halt the worsening lean and repair the damaged caused by the elements and heavy passing traffic, it was approved a multi-millionaire restoration project that finished in 2002 that included strengthening the wooden foundations and replacing most of the decaying carvings.

Address:  17 Queens Square, Belfast BT1 3FF


Titanic Quarter

  • Titanic Museum
  • HMS Caroline
  • Samson and Goliath Cranes

For those who don’t know, the famous ship Titanic was built in Belfast. The Titanic museum takes you on a full trip to the ship and its history. It is one of the biggest touristic places of the city. Next to the marvellous and modern building of the museum you have the HSM Caroline, the only survivor of the Battle of Jutland.

Samson and Goliath cranes, the two yellow cranes dominating the Belfast skyline are the most important landmarks of the city. Constructed to service the vast new dock at Harland and Wolff, the world’s great shipbuilders at the time, these two cranes were see as a sign of faith in the future in a difficult period for shipbuilding.

Website Titanic Museum: https://www.titanicbelfast.com/

Address: Titanic House, 6 Queens Rd, Belfast BT3 9DT


The Big Fish

The Big Fish and Samson and Goliath cranes behind

The Big Fish is a statue representing a fish made with a cladding of ceramic blue tiles decorated with texts and images related to the history of Belfast. It was created in 1999 to celebrate the regeneration of the River Lagan and its historic importance for the city.

Address: Donegall Quay, Belfast BT1 3NG


Cathedral’s Quarter

The Cathedral Quarter has this name due to St. Anne’s Cathedral (for more see below). The narrow-cobbled streets of the oldest part of Belfast makes you feel like exploring and wandering. This area was before the centre of Belfast’s trade and warehousing district growing from the prosperous linen and shipbuilding industries. Even today you can still find some of the oldest buildings and thoroughfares. The area fell into decline during last century but has recently re-emerged and it is now referred to as “Cultural Quarter”, an area that is now bustling with impressive culture and arts scenes. In these streets you will find many bars, pubs and restaurants where you can enjoy a fantastic night out.


St. Anne’s Cathedral

St. Anne’s Cathedral was built between 1899 to 1904 around the old church that was located there. Inside the cathedral you will find wonderful masterpieces, historic relic and beautiful mosaics. The two most important details in this cathedral are the Spire of Hope, a 40-meter pinnacle that rises from the glass roof of the cathedral and the Celtic cross located on the altar. The entrance is free.

Website: https://www.belfastcathedral.org/

Address: Donegall St, Belfast BT1 2HB


St. Patrick’s Church Belfast

This Roman Catholic church is located in Donegall Street area (you will find it if you walk from the city centre to the Crumlin Road Goal). The first church was opened in 1815 while the new building was built in 1877.

Address:  199 Donegall St, Belfast BT1 2FL


Botanic Gardens & Ulster Museum

Ulster Museum is located in the Botanic Gardens, and that is the reason why they are together in this post. This museum is the largest museum in Northern Ireland and one of the museums belonging to the National Museums of Northern Ireland. The entrance is free and you will find collections and expositions from very diversified fields such as fine art, archaeology, botany, zoology, local history and geology among many others.

The Botanic Gardens in Belfast are composed of two buildings, both of free access, the Tropical Ravine and the Palm House. In the Tropical Ravine you will find some of the oldest seeds plants as well as cinnamon, banana and orchid plants. In the Palm House there are a range of tropical plants. These gardens are a very nice place to walk along on a sunny day, or if you unlucky as us, on a “not-very-nice-weather”day.

Website Botanic Gardens: http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/leisure/parks-openspaces/Park-6614.aspx

Website Ulster Museum: https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/ulster-museum/Home.aspx

Address:  College Park, Botanic Avenue, Belfast BT7 1LP


Outside Belfast

Giant’s Causeway

When I thought of Northern Ireland the image that comes to my mind immediately is basalt columns near the sea and breath-taking cliffs. For that reason, once landed in Belfast we decided that it was imperative to visit the most-known nature attraction close to Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway. We were lucky enough to have a friend who drove us there but there are several companies doing a one-day tour that takes you not only to the Giant’s Causeway but you will also have the amazing opportunity to visit beautiful landscapes around here.

The very peculiar landscape in the Giant’s Causeway, the about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, were a result of a volcanic eruption. This site was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 and national nature reserve by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland in 1986.

There’s a legend associated with Giant’s Causeway but as usual there are different versions. Although the one that I am going to write was the version that was told us by a local.

“According to the Irish legend, in that area used to live a giant called Finn MacCool challenged the Scottish giant called Benandonner who lived in the Scottish coast right in front of Giant’s Causeway to fight. However, the Scottish giant accepted the fight he didn’t have a way to reach the Irish coast. That was why MacCool built the causeway across the North Channel so both giants could meet and fight. MacCool’s wife afraid that her husband was killed during the fight, she dressed him like a baby so when Benandonner arrived and saw the size of the “baby” he reckoned that its father must be a huge giant and he would be killed during the fight. Benandonner went back to Scotland destroying the causeway behind him so MacCool couldn’t chase him down.”

Again, there are different versions and probably who have been told a different story. That doesn’t mean anything, because in the end it is just a legend.

On the pictures above it is said that those stone formation represent the boot and the organ (where the giant used to play) respectively.

This was definitely the favourite place we have been in Northern Ireland. Please take an extra day off to be able to visit this spectacular area.

!Both Giant’s Causeway and Dark Hedges (see below) are free to visit. If you want there is a bus that departs from the vistor center to the Giant’s Causeway and costs £1.


Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is a medieval castled that is now in ruins located on the edge of dramatic coastal cliffs on the north of County Antrim. This castle represented the House of Greyjoy in the famous TV series Game of Thrones.

Dunluce Castle

The opening times to visit this castle is from 09:30 to 16:00, being the last entry at 15:30. The ticket is £5,50 per adult and £3,50 per child.


Dark Hedges

Dark Hedges is another very popular place among the fans of Game of Thrones – it represents the King’s Road.

Dark Hedges – Unfortunately, when we visited some tree had been cut down

The Dark Hedges is a avenue of over 150 beech trees that form an atmospheric tunnel built in 1775 by James Stuart as a majestic entrance for its new house, the Gracehill house, after his wife Grace Lynd. There is here also a legend. It is been said there is a ghost called Grey Lady that visit the hedges. It is been claimed that this ghost is either the spirit of James Stuart’s daughter or one of the house’s maids that died mysteriously or even a spirit from an abandoned graveyard beneath the fields.


Bushmills Distillery

This Distillery in the oldest licensed whisky distillery (since 1608). The visit to this distillery is tour-guided and there is a new tour starting every 10-20 minutes. In this tour it is explained how the whisky is produced, the ingredients involved, the time and how it is kept and the differences between Irish whisky and any other type of whisky. In the end of the tour you’ll receive a voucher for one drink. You can try the “only-found-in-the-distillery” whisky, which is a type of whisky that you can only buy inside this distillery so it is quite rare or if you are not a whisky lover you can opt for a whisky-Margarita or a soft drink.

Website: https://bushmills.com/intl